Tasmania

Day 6: Lake St. Clair to New Norfolk/Hobart


Our last riding day was scheduled to be our third big day in a row–150km into New Norfolk, then a van shuttle into Hobart. My ankle felt a little tweaked, but mostly I wasn’t feeling any negative effects from the two previous long days.

It was chilly when we got up; single digits, Celsius-wise. Peter, Tammy and I had not fired up the wood stove the night before, so our cabin was decidedly chilly. We later heard that Wally and Claire, unfamiliar with using a wood stove for heat, had stoked theirs up to full blast, and got to spend the night at a comfortable 65 degrees Celsius; all in all, I think we got the better end of the deal.

While stocking our kitchens with cereal, milk and fruit, Bob had managed to catch a grocery bag on his handlebars and ingloriously hit the deck in front of many witnesses (though the only injuries were to his lip and his pride). We had breakfast in the cabin, so not nearly as much food as we had been consuming, but there were two lunch stops scheduled for the day so we should be able to make it.

It was definitely cold, but sunny and warming quickly. Peter and Tammy clambered into their arctic expedition gear, while I donned my arm warmers. Burdened by their snowshoes, they started off slowly, so on the road it was me, Wally and Claire. I stopped for some more Derwent Forest photos–the first one including the bike for scale. They say these are the second-largest trees in the world, behind the California sequoias. They’ve been largely protected by the fact that they’re useless for construction wood, but there’s now an effort under way to cut them down for wood chips. I don’t know if the Australian government has yet managed to invent terms like “mechanical thinning.”

The road through Derwent Forest was slightly rolling, with a nice tailwind; the kind of terrain Wally and I both have fun on. We made good time across the plateau, then had a twisty, fun descent to the Nive River, which we would be crossing 4 times today; we had our first lunch stop of the day when we reached the river.

The climb up out of the valley matched the descent; it was quite a bit of work. Near the top I hooked up with Peter and Tammy, and then we caught Wally and Claire and started riding together. After we hit the peak, the riding was mostly downhill or flat, but with a number of rises which kept us working. It seemed like a long way to the turnoff past Ouse; in retrospect, I think the relative dearth of caloric intake was catching up with me.

After Ouse, our maps showed a climb ahead. However, they showed the climb from previous years, when the ride continued on the main highway into Hamilton. On our elevation profile, we were looking at a 150-meter climb; it turns out the road we actually wound up on was more like 300 meters of climb, and steeper, with two false summits to boot. We were all feeling pretty weak and demoralized as we realized we still had another 20km to get to the next food stop.

Finally we crested the hill and the terrain began to roll gently downwards. I decided I was damned if I was going to be out there for another hour waiting for food; I got on the big ring and started powering over the rollers. Wally stayed on my tail while I gave him a massive pull about halfway to lunch, over three sizable rises, and then the bugger came around and dropped me. I still had enough momentum to make the rest of the ride in go relatively quickly; Peter, Tammy and Claire came in about 10 minutes after us.

The snack spot was about 20km from New Norfolk, our destination for the day. Peter and Tammy were thinking about sagging in; Tammy’s bottom bracket was making some odd clicking noises, and since they were off to New Zealand tomorrow for another bike tour, they wanted to get it fixed before they left. Since it was nearing the time the bike shops would be closing, getting it fixed would require that we all sag in to New Norfolk. I simply couldn’t let that happen–do the whole tour and then sag the last 20km? No way. So we all saddled up again and got back on the road.

We agreed to ride the last bit as a group. It was largely flat roads through pastureland. As we neared the town we started to encounter a fair amount of traffic, realizing how unaccustomed we’d become to riding with cars. Still, the ride was largely uneventful; we were taking it easy, joking and chatting, enjoying each other’s company. We rolled into New Norfolk not far behind Damien in the van, and broke down our bikes for the last time for the van ride into Hobart. (The tour used to go all the way into Hobart, but from New Norfolk to Hobart it’s just busy, unpleasant roads, or so they say).

When we arrived at the hotel we had a bit of a bike breakdown clinic going in the driveway, as all five of us tried to get our bikes packed quickly so we could get to dinner. (We were hungry). I managed to pack my wallet into my bike box, which subsequently got packed into the van underneath a bunch of other bikes and bags (of course). We spelunked for it and headed out to dinner, which was in an actual Italian restaurant. Lennie sent around a sheet to collect everyone’s email addresses, while Wally and Susan shared with us a bit of verse they’d penned to commemorate the trip.

Most of us were leaving that night, or early next morning, so we said our goodbyes and went to collapse in our rooms. I’d done over 450km in the past three days, by far my largest 3-day total, and I still felt pretty good physically–tired but not beaten. The trip had reenergized me, and I felt that on my return to the mainland (ours, not Australia’s) I would be prepared to take on my new life challenges. I couldn’t have asked for more.

Day 6 totals
Average speed: 23.2 kph
Distance: 151.5 km
Climb: 1576 meters
Final Totals
Average speed: 22.4 kph
Distance: 654.3 km
Climb 8204 meters

Leave a Reply